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Four Decades Along the Rainbow Road

Friday, October 31, 2014

First Drag Show in Columbia Scheduled

For a number of years, drag shows have been one of the popular entertainment features at PW’s Sports Bar in North Laurel—Howard County’s only gay bar.  Many of these shows are held in conjunction with charitable events and causes in which PW’s participates.
Now some of the drag acts will be traveling up the road to Columbia where they will perform in a straight bar named Second Chance Saloon in the village of Oakland Mills.  When the performers hit the stage on November 8 at 10 p.m. it will mark the first time a public drag show takes place in the city of Columbia, Md.

Titled “Sugar, Spice and a Little Something Nice,” the event will be hosted by Anastacia Amor, a well-known drag performer at PWs.  Co-hosting the show will be another drag celebrity Shawnna Alexander.  In addition, local performers Ariyanna Myst, Onyx D' Pearl and Krystal Nova will entertain.

“This is exciting because it’s a new venue that has never done a drag show and the establishment reached out to me,” Anastacia Amor said.  “This is something that they are excited for and want to embrace the community and provide another place to enjoy a night out. You can expect a great show, a wonderful establishment and an all around great time.”  #hocoarts
Indeed, management from Second Chance Saloon did seek out Miss Amor to put on this show.  “The owner Declan Wood and I would often go to PW’s in Laurel to watch the drag shows because it’s always a blast,” said Jacquie Ramsey, the manager of Second Chance Saloon.   “I arranged this night by knowing the bartender at PW’s who set me up with Lovell (Anastacia Amor’s boy name).  I’m looking forward to this event and I hope that we can do it more often!”

The Second Chance Saloon is located at 5888 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia, MD 21045.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Vote Frederic, Not Bates

Ryan Frederic, who is in a tough fight in District 9 for Maryland State Senate, would bring a fresh perspective to Annapolis on job creation, growth and fiscal responsibility.
His opponent, Gail Bates, does not reflect the values of Howard County.  She fought tooth and nail to derail any attempts to pass legislation that would allow marriage for same-sex couples and nondiscrimination protections for transgender individuals.  In fact, she has opposed every piece of legislation that would benefit LGBT couples and families.

Mrs. Bates continued her assault on equality during the referendum in 2012 but to no avail.  The law conferring same-sex couples the same rights, benefits and responsibilities that heterosexual couples take for granted was upheld during the referendum battle despite Gail Bates’ unabashed opposition.  In Howard County voters supported the measure by nearly a 3 to 2 margin reflecting Howard County’s values of inclusion, equality and diversity.
Several years ago when the struggle for marriage equality was in its infant stages, I, along with a bunch of good people from PFLAG, testified before the Howard County delegation at the Howard Building in support of the cause.  While all the other legislators, regardless of where they stood on the issue, listened attentively with respect to each person testifying, Gail Bates, sat with her head bowed, averting any eye contact and seemingly paying no attention to what county citizens were saying.  #hocopolitics

This lack of courtesy and respect, which was clearly noticed by all of us who testified, further demonstrated Mrs. Bates’ eschewing the values of Howard County.

With her poor record on equality Mrs. Bates does not deserve another election victory.  We should support our fellow Democrat Ryan Frederic.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Battling Through Voter Apathy

It was a cool wet morning on October 1 when my husband and I volunteered at a voter registration table in Howard Community College’s Duncan Hall.  This is one of the growing number of buildings at HCC, which is regarded as one of the best community colleges in the nation.  The semi-annual drive representing the Columbia Democratic Club is non-partisan; we just try to get the kids to register to vote and do not discuss candidates or parties unless we’re asked.  

Between classes, the millenials bustle about enroute to their next destination, perhaps English, History, or a Political Science course.  They form an amazingly vibrant tapestry of diversity reflecting virtually every race and nationality under the sun.  The students shuttle through the hall alone, in pairs or in groups toting backpacks with many of them plugged into their electronic devices.
“Are you registered to vote?” one of us calls out to a young woman in a tan jacket. 

Some good news: “I’m already registered.”  “Great,” we say approvingly.

“Are you registered to vote?” we ask again to a group of four, a little damp from the rain, coming through the doors from the quad.  
“Can’t now, on the way to class.” Okay, that’s understandable.

“We’ll be here ‘til 2,” we point out, but we suspect they’re not coming back.
To another, “Would you like to register to vote?” 

Now the bad news: “I’m good,” says a young man trying to breeze past our table to anyplace but.
“Don’t you want to vote in the election?”

“Not really.”
During the four-hour span we managed to sign up 20 students, and with some it was a hard sell.  The election was a month away yet there was no enthusiasm among the students.  It’s not unusual. 

Ever since the voting age was changed to 18, this age group historically had low turnout at the polls.  Most have not yet been wired to politics and are oblivious to the issues of the day.  The Obama candidacy generated considerable electricity throughout the nation’s college campuses, and turnout spiked among this demographic, especially in 2008.  In 2012 it was still better than the norm but declined somewhat from the previous presidential election.
Now we are facing the dreaded mid-terms, and I’m not referring to the exams these kids zipping through Duncan Hall would soon be facing.  These off-year elections when no presidential contest is in play typically attract a paltry fraction of all registered voters, not just the eligible youth.

The phenomenon of only a minority of the electorate choosing our leaders has a consequence. George Jean Nathan, a collaborator with H.L Mencken, once said, “Bad officials are the ones elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
Low voter turnout has long been analyzed by political pundits, and so far no one has been successful in ensuring a consistently strong turnout at the polls.  Even with early voting in many states including Maryland, the results are the same.  Campaigns have programmed hefty amounts of money from their budgets to implement sophisticated Get out the Vote (GOTV) mechanisms that would encourage their computer-identified supporters to head to the polling places.

Even presidential elections produce disappointing turnouts.  Between 1960 and 2008, the percentage of eligible voters who have bothered to cast their ballots during these elections have ranged from about 49 percent to 63 percent. This means that as much as half of American voters don’t care enough to decide which candidate would make a good chief executive.
Locally, there are consequential elections taking place.  Besides the gubernatorial race, the entire state Senate and House of Delegates are up for grabs not to mention Congressional seats. Plus, there are numerous county-level races with the county executive election in Howard County between pro-LGBT candidates Courtney Watson and Allan H. Kittleman figuring to be tightly contested.

“Bad officials are the ones elected by good citizens who do not vote.”

Yet, with so much at stake there has seemingly been a lack of voltage during this cycle.  Much of this can be attributed to the ho-hum campaigns of Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Larry Hogan.  Neither has caught fire either because of their style, the negative ads, the bland debates or a lack of a singular burning issue.  The Governor’s race at the top of the ticket typically drives voter turnout, not local Orphan Court judge races or other down ballot contests.   #hocopolitics
Whether you’re stoked for this election or not, one thing we can do is pay back our elected officials who supported marriage equality and transgender non-discrimination measures during the past term.  We owe it to them for making the tough votes and speaking out not knowing how such controversial stances would affect their political careers. 

If you are progressive, you should check out Progressive Maryland’s voter guide.  In this way, you can reward those who stood for us whether you ever plan to marry or not or whether you’re transgender or not.  These folks deserve our votes.   #hocopolitics
There are many reasons for voter apathy.  They include a lack of awareness of the issues, a disdain for politicians in general, not believing their vote matters, feeling politically alienated, dislike for the specific candidates, and other factors.  Any or all of these plus weather conditions or ill health will keep folks home.

Accordingly, many people decry the disturbingly low turnouts.  You hear them say, “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.”  Well actually one does have that right. But as Abraham Lincoln commented, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Charles Brings 'Pride' to Baltimore

Recall the film and musical Billy Elliot, the delightful heart-warming story of a young ballet dancer trying to fulfill his dreams with Great Britain’s arduous miners’ strike as the backdrop.  That strike, thirty years later, is thrust to the forefront in another sweet movie that also shines a spotlight on courage, humanity, warmth, friendship and triumph. 

Pride, a BBC-produced film directed by Matthew Warchus and written by Stephen Beresford, was screened as part of the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival at which it received a standing ovation.  The venerable Charles Theatre, situated in Baltimore’s Station North arts and entertainment district, is presenting this treasure of a film, whereby audiences—gay or straight—should eat up like an English crumpet. 
I understand the reason for the movie’s title Pride given that the plot of the film is bookended by London gay pride parades in 1984 and 1985 and that there is a sense of accomplishment among many of the characters in the film despite challenges.  But it seems a bit simplistic and non-descriptive since the word “pride” is so generic.  Perhaps, Pride and Prejudice would have been a more suitable title, but unfortunately, it was already taken.   #hocoarts

That is my only quibble about this excellent film.  Based on a true story with a few fictional characters thrown into the mix, Pride follows the travails of a group of lesbian and gay activists who felt the need to support the striking British miners in 1984 by raising money for the strikers’ families.
While initially the group questioned why they should support a bunch of macho guys who have historically been unfriendly to gays, their young, outspoken, charismatic and handsome leader Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) argued the miners’ struggles were not that different from their own.  He pointed out that gays and lesbians and the miners have common enemies: Margaret Thatcher, the police and the right-wing tabloid press. 

Their newly formed group called Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) was born in London’s Gay’s the Word—the U.K.’s only gay and lesbian bookstore—a venue where these gay folks hung out.  LGSM attempted to raise money and donate through the national miners union only to notice the discomfort on the part of the union leadership from the public relations risk of being associated with a bunch of puffs. 
Undaunted, LGSM decided to take their donations to a small mining village in the bucolic Dulais Valley lodge in Onllwyn, South Wales. It was there that the odd alliance was formed.  The initial meetings were fraught with tension and awkwardness with the villagers being apprehensive towards “the gays.”  But through the sheer force of getting to know people on a personal basis, minds opened up and bonds were gradually created and fortified. 

As a culmination of their efforts, LGSM formed a wildly successful benefit concert called “Pits and Perverts,” smartly co-opting the word “perverts” that was derisively printed in the tabloids to use as a rallying device.  When that event actually occurred, the group Bronski Beat headlined.   
In actuality, this was a national movement but Bereford funnels it into this London-based group.   What transpires is a beautiful blend of empathy, solidarity and friendship that is both moving and inspirational.  And Pride’s climactic conclusion, which will not be disclosed here, is guaranteed to leave you teary-eyed.
Besides the New York-born but London-trained Ben Schnetzer who turned in a strong, focused performance, the remainder of the talented cast brought to life Bereford’s poignant and humorous script that entails several sub-plots.  They include the onset of AIDS, the tense discovery by parents that their son is gay, and another gay man who reconnects with his estranged family. 
George MacKay as Joe, the closeted 20 year-old, was convincing and played the role with sensitivity.  Others who were part of “the gays”—Dominic West, Andrew Scott, Joseph Gilgun, and the colorful token lesbian, Faye Marsay as Steph—are solid actors.  

Equally strong were the Welsh characters including Imelda Staunton, Paddy Considine and Bill Nighy.  Staunton as Dulais community leader Hefina provides a good deal of the humor especially when she wields a large pink dildo—a scene not to be missed.
Considine as Dai, the representative from Dulais, provided a soothing, amiable contrast to some of the homophobic characters.  His performance was splendid.

Pride is a must-see uplifting film.  Director Warchus beautifully takes us on an historic journey from the streets of London to the lush South Wales countryside and back while Bereford’s writing shows exquisitely how disparate groups of people can shrug off their differences and meld together for a common goal in this true story.     
The Charles Theatre is located at 1711 N, Charles St., Baltimore 21201.  Tickets and show times are available by calling 410-727-3464 or visiting thecharles.com.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Nice Guys Finish First

During the heat of an election campaign we hear some people deride an opposing candidate as being a “nice guy” as if that’s a liability. (For the purpose of this post, the term “nice guy” in the vernacular applies to both genders.)  The context being the person has different values, positions and a faulty record, but his being a “nice guy” might carry him through the day. 
It could if history has anything to do with it.

One of the many axioms in politics is not to downplay a candidate’s likability.  This is not to suggest that likability is sufficient to win an election. Stances on specific issues, party affiliation, the current political environment, the opponent, oratory skills, the amount of money raised and spent, endorsements, record, biography, and voter turnout are among those factors in shaping an election.  #hocopolitics
But likability is a major strength especially if voters are not engaged on the issues or are not informed regarding the candidates.  It could be decisive with other factors being equal, and all politicians would be wise to make that an asset for themselves.

Throughout history, likability has frequently been a rationale for voters.  It became more prevalent starting with the Kennedy-Nixon contest in 1960 when television, for the first time, was a major element in the election campaign.  Most pundits opined that the televised debate between those two candidates was the turning point.  Nixon looked nervous, sweaty and pale on black and white television though he was the more experienced politician, while the young John F. Kennedy seemed alert, fresh and vibrant.  Of course, Nixon had been suffering from a cold and eschewed using make-up, but he won the debate on the merits.  Nonetheless, Nixon lost the night because of the optics.    
Voters around the country gave Kennedy a closer look and liked what they saw.  They fell in love with his beautiful, glamorous wife and young daughter, and Kennedy himself possessed strong oratory skills, charisma and was inspirational.  In short, enough of the voters liked him, his personality and his family to hand him a slim margin of victory at the polls.  Nixon, seen as glum, was doomed to falter to the more pleasant Kennedy.

There are exceptions, of course, but other presidential contests demonstrated how likability may have been a determinant.  There was the affable, sunny Ronald Reagan winning over the turgid Jimmy Carter.  Folksy, down-home Bill Clinton defeating the privileged George H.W. Bush (with a little help from Ross Perot).  Jocular George W. Bush losing the votes but winning the Electoral College over the stiff and sighing Al Gore (assisted by Ralph Nader and the Supreme Court).  And Bush again edging another stiff one, John Kerry.
Then you have the historic candidacy of Barack Obama—a far more likable chap than the cranky John McCain and mega-rich snob Mitt Romney—winning two terms.  He even gave a nod to the likability factor as he famously told Hillary Clinton during a primary debate, “You’re likeable enough Hillary.”  But that retort backfired on the political neophyte as it was seen as patronizing.

Those likable candidates mentioned above would have won those elections regardless of likability because there were overriding issues that interested and engaged the electorate. But there is no doubt that favorable trait played a role in their success. 
Any political advisor or consultant worth his or her salt would tell you that it is critical to be likable.  This is especially applicable in local contests when issues typically don’t rise to the level of national security and other broad concerns.  It could be a difference maker. 

The way to deal with that during a campaign is to either drive up the likable opponent’s negatives or improve their own favorability.  Those already holding elected office could look back and note that their likability may have helped put them in those jobs. 
The value of likability should never be underestimated even if elections are rarely won or lost based on that alone.  However, on most occasions it seems that nice guys do finish first.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Supreme Court's Punt Gives Us Good Field Position

When the U.S. Supreme Court unexpectedly decided on October 6 not to take up several appeals of lower court rulings that struck down the existing bans on same-sex marriages, many believed the justices “punted.”  That is, less than four of the nine justices chose not to review these cases and will likely not be part of this term’s docket. 

Both sides had hoped for a sweeping decision by the Court to settle once and for all whether the right for same-sex couples to marry is protected by the U.S. Constitution.  Rather, by choosing to sidestep these cases they allowed the lower court rulings to stand.
To use football parlance, because the Supreme Court punted the hot button issue for a likely date sometime in the future, marriage equality advocates did not score a touchdown they were hoping for but instead found themselves in good field position.

By refusing to review cases from the Fourth Circuit, which covers Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, same–sex marriages are no longer prevented from occurring. The Court also did not take on cases arising from the Seventh Circuit, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, and in the Tenth Circuit, which covers Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. 

And in the Ninth Circuit, marriage bans were struck down in Idaho and Nevada by a panel of judges the next day.  This ruling also applies to Arizona, Montana and Alaska.  Nuptials may be delayed in some of these states because of specific legal procedures, but eventually they will be allowed.  In all, the number of states permitting same-sex marriage would jump from 19 to 30 plus D.C. representing states with 60 percent of the U.S. population.  
Though the Supreme Court offered no explanation for their action, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who once officiated a same-sex wedding, indicated last month that for the justices there is “no need for us to rush” unless a split emerges in the various federal appeals courts and one of them decides to uphold a state ban on same-sex marriage.   

Had there been a split, the justices may have taken a look at it. That can happen in that the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati is thought as one of the few that could uphold the bans.  Therefore, the Court put itself in a place where they would likely have to tackle the issue once and for all.
Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of the advocacy organization Freedom to Marry, said while the October 6 action provided “a bright green light” to same-sex marriage in more states, marriage equality advocates do want the Supreme Court to intervene and provide a definitive ruling covering all 50 states. “The Supreme Court should bring the country to a nationwide resolution,” Wolfson said. 

Those opposing marriage equality do as well and will continue to defend the bans in court (though stalling would appear advantageous to them if a Court vacancy is filled with a conservative).  They strongly believe that the people should decide the definition of marriage, not judges.

Opponents should note, however, that the people are not as against marriage equality as they think.  Ever since 2004 when the first same-sex weddings took place in Massachusetts—an occurrence that became a winning strategy for Republicans during the presidential campaign—support for marriage equality swung dramatically.  In fact, poll after poll indicate that a majority of Americans now support marriage equality.
During the 10 years since gay marriage was used as a political wedge issue, clear evidence of a transformation in attitudes began in 2012 with the startling first-time victories at the ballot box in three states that included Maryland.  Since then, legal challenges to a swath of state constitutions were launched claiming that the denial of same-sex couples to marry was in violation of the U.S. Constitution under the Equal Protection Clause.

As these cases meandered through the lower courts whereby one ruling after another found for the plaintiffs, federal appeal courts have upheld those rulings in a stunning wave of victories, adding great momentum to the movement.  The rationale  for these decisions had been bolstered in 2013 by the Supreme Court’s striking down key provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act. 
What was once a political weapon for Republicans nationwide, the changing attitudes towards same-sex marriage has pushed most Republicans to a hands-off approach.  This is consistent with their alleged attempts to demonstrate more acceptance towards gays and other minorities to improve their general election chances.   Indeed, a vast majority of Republicans remained silent following the recent Supreme Court announcement.

Senator Ted Cruz from Texas who many regard as an extremist, was one of the exceptions to have lashed out against the Court. “The Supreme Court’s decision to let rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic and indefensible,” he said.   He pledged to again introduce a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman.  Good luck.
Reince Priebus, the chair of the Republican National Committee, in an effort to keep his job, threw a bone to his base by condemning the Supreme Court’s decision.  He said that if gays were allowed to marry, “America will ultimately collapse.”

As we have witnessed in the states where marriage equality is in place including Maryland, the sky has not fallen; society has not been destroyed; and the institution of marriage has not deteriorated.  Instead, children of same-sex couples are now protected, couples receive the same benefits, rights and responsibilities as their heterosexual counterparts; and the local economies have received a much needed boon.
As same-sex marriages continue to take place across the land, it will become increasing difficult to invalidate all those nuptials should that day eventually arrive when the ball lands in the Supreme Court justices’ hands.  Too much chaos would result.  Accordingly, we’re in a good position now to ultimately take it to the end zone.

Monday, October 06, 2014

4.48 Psychosis at Iron Crow

In keeping with the Iron Crow Theatre Company’s tradition of staging unconventional, thought-provoking, often dark dramas, the kick-off to their three-play 2014-2015 Season did not disappoint.  You know you’re in for a signature Iron Crow theatrical experience when before the play begins the audience observes a body dressed in white, highlighted by occasional red lighting, lying prone on the otherwise darkened Theatre Project stage with some gloomy New Age music droning in the background prior to its presentation of 4.48 Psychosis.   #hocoarts

Nick Horan (L.) and Katie Keddell  Photo: Zachary Z. Handler
Though Iron Crow bills itself as Baltimore’s queer theatre company, 4.48 Psychosis by British playwright Sarah Kane stepped aside from past Iron Crow plays that usually have LGBTQ themes woven into the scripts.  Research reveals, however, that Kane had affairs with women, so this presentation does have an LGBTQ connection even if the subject matter was mostly devoid of it.
In fact, 4.48 Psychosis doesn’t even have a plot, structure, timeline or staging directions.  Iron Crow’s artistic director Steven J. Satta attests to that fact in a press release announcing the season: “The play is written in a manner, which is not realistic or linear but rather abstract and disjointed, which is appropriate when dealing with issues of mental health—the rational does not apply.”

For full review, visit MD Theatre Guide.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The GLCCB's Mounting Challenges

The resignation of interim executive director Kelly Neel from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB) further brings to light the mounting challenges facing the 35 year-old institution.  In a candid email sent to 180 friends and colleagues, Neel, who served in that capacity for about five months following the resignation of her predecessor Matt Thorn, wrote, “It has been a tumultuous time for the organization, which has been in transition for quite some time now. While I believe that we have navigated the past year to the best of our abilities, I no longer feel that my values and my vision align with those of our leadership.”
Kelly Neel at 2014 Baltimore Pride
Prior to the resignation, a search for a permanent executive director was underway.  Neel saw the handwriting on the wall: she was not going to win the job through a competitive process.  Neel told me that she did not receive support from the board of directors; there was a decided lack of communication between the board and her; she did not feel valued or respected; and there was a “disconnect” regarding her vision on financial strategies and event planning.
A member of the board acknowledged she was not likely to be offered the permanent position though she would have been considered along with other candidates.  For their part, the board was dissatisfied with her handling of the job, managing and presenting budgets, and the manner in which she interacted with board members. 

Without getting into the he-said, she-said details, one thing is clear: they didn’t get along, and she resigned on her own terms without having to go through the process of inevitably losing out to another candidate.  Cohesion is critical in any organization, and perhaps a better effort could have been undertaken by both sides to improve the relationship.
To be clear, Neel was just one person given formidable tasks to manage the Center. As she had previously pointed out in an open letter, “it takes a village.” All the essential operations and programs of the GLCCB should not be the responsibility of one person.  The board should not simply supervise the executive director but to also assume an “all hands on deck” posture to actively help out as well.  That has not happened.  

To the public (and the executive director is indeed the public face of the Center) Neel demonstrated a calm temperament and demeanor during the contentious town hall meeting at the Waxter Center in July.  She was among those in the cross-hairs during that event, handling the barbs with professionalism, class and respect.  She pledged and followed through on the prevailing theme of establishing transparency by posting minutes of previous board meetings (to the extent that they were available), financial reports, and board applications (since removed) to the GLCCB’s website.  She also arranged for open board meetings of which two have taken place.
As Neel pointed out, she functioned in an environment that she termed as “tumultuous,” – a generous characterization.  She assumed the post of interim executive director just a couple of months before Pride whereby decisions had already been made to shift the location.  Her task was to implement those decisions in a tight timeframe, and despite some cracks in the walls, she and her staff of volunteers pulled off the huge event quite well. 

Prior to Neel’s appointment, the GLCCB’s move to new digs at the Waxter Center last winter did not go over well.  The new venue was and still is not physically and cosmetically ready for prime time depriving the Center from holding a welcoming open house to help reset their image. And the sale of the previous building as well as the move itself was controversial because of the lack of transparency and community input.  
During the town hall and since, Neel issued a public warning that the Center needs the community to survive.  The financial picture for the GLCCB looks dismal with mounting debt and a lack of a reliable income stream to sustain a minimum of $10,000 per month for operations and personnel.  This doesn’t even include program-related expenses.

Neel rightly acknowledged there is a growing apathy among the LGBT communities towards the Center, which would take an enormous effort to reverse. Two months ago I outlined some common-sense suggestions to right the ship.  If followed, there is a chance the Center could build a brand that will provide a rationale for its existence and the donations would possibly follow.
The key to success is community buy-in.  The GLCCB must express a vision that it rightly has a place in Baltimore and whose mission is not centered on Pride alone.  It needs to extend their hands to all communities and allow representatives to help formulate and act on the Center’s mission. It needs a diverse board with a broad range of experiences that would be willing to roll up their sleeves and work.  The Center should continue what Neel was beginning to accomplish by holding small, inexpensive and affordable events to raise money and to show more visibility and relevancy.

Instability at the top (and that includes the revolving door on the board) is not the way to maintain rapport and business relationships with other entities nor will it help bolster confidence in an organization that is in need of it. Kelly Neel was not the problem and a search for a permanent executive director could have waited.
The focus should be on developing a clear strategy to deal with the financial crisis and fast.  Perhaps most importantly, however, the communities must feel there is a reason to keep the GLCCB going.

These are challenges, to be sure, but if not met, the doors could shut down for good.